Virtually everything on the internet is by definition “World Wide”. Even though Mechanical Elements (Synthesis Engineering Services) is physically located in the USA, we have a world audience, so it’s a fair question: Do you have plans in metric? After all, for most of the world, the metric system rules. It’s only in the USA that inches and feet with old the English system are still common. Even the English don’t use the English system any more.
Personally, I agree. The metric system is so much easier to use, easier to think about, and makes more sense. No question here. However, as much as I’d like to see things change, this country has a lot of history with it, and a lot of people that stubbornly resist the change. I’m not sure why, but that’s a different discussion.
DIY Plans In Metric
So, do you make versions of your plans in metric?
Well, I’m sorry to say, at this time we don’t. It would be wonderful, we absolutely agree, but our experience says that’s harder than it first sounds.
At Synthesis, the Engineering Company parent of Mechanical Elements, we serve clients from all over the world. We also serve clients that manufacture all over the world, so we do a lot of design in metric. Making plans in metric should be no problem. Right?
Experience shows that materials are not so common or even “standard” around the globe. Different materials and different sizes are available in different areas. For example, we designed a specialty trailer for a customer that they wanted to produce in Thailand. We found suppliers there and got lists of available materials, then did the design and engineering. The Customer then changed their mind to build in the Philippines instead. Unfortunately, some of the materials in the design were not available there. So, we had to redesign based on materials in the Philippines.
So, I’ll admit, the task to make versions of the plans in metric for each geographical area is daunting. Just the research alone to find out what materials are available in each country. Then, all the designs. Certainly, we can, but does it make economical sense? Check out this article on what goes into making the plans for a little perspective.
Yes, we are sympathetic to the desire for plans in metric. We just haven’t made the case to do it.
Plans In English
The first plans at Mechanical Elements were done with English dimensions (inches) because that’s the material available where we live in the USA. It’s hard to get metric materials here, so the first designs were in inches. As you might expect, it snowballed from there.
Of course, in selling plans, we must also look at the markets. There’s a lot of work that goes into each set of plans, so being quite honest, there has to be some business sense. Because the plans are currently in English dimensions, they sell most in the USA. That makes it look like the biggest market. If we had plans available in metric, would sales increase in other places? Hard to say, but you can vote in the comments below. If there is one trailer size that is most important to you for plans in metric, please let us know. We’re not promising, but we are very interested to know if customers want this. And the business side asks, How many customers want it?
Converting Plans To Metric
So the biggest question for the moment is how to convert the English version plans to metric? Can you do that?
Yes, customers do it all the time. Honestly, Australia is our 3rd largest market, so there’s a lot of calculating going on there. Here are some thoughts about making a good conversion.
- Look at the overall size of the project. For a trailer, we’re talking about the bed size — width, length — and the tongue length. For a gantry crane, we’re talking about the total width as well as the height of the legs. Similar for presses. Start the conversions based on the final outcome you want.
- Have a good look at the article about what is safe to change with the plans. Make sure your size changes will fit within these guidelines.
- Look at the specification for each component. If the plans call for a piece of rectangular steel tube that is 4″ x 2″ x 1/8″ thick (101.6 mm x 50.8 mm x 3.2 mm thick), substitute a similar metric beam that is at least as thick. For our example, a metric beam that is 100 x 50 x 3 will probably work, but for safety’s sake, choose the 4.0 mm thick material instead.
- Some beams will require a little more thinking. For instance, if you are working on one of our Tiny House trailers, you’ll need to examine I-Beam Choices based on what is available where you live.
- Do the above steps with each aspect of the design. Make your conversions consistent, and write them on the drawings. Feel free to round your overall sizes to round numbers, but make sure you’re consistent throughout. This way, you’ll end up with plans in metric.
- Double check everything. Best to convert twice and build once.
Many things do convert easily. For instance, in some of our more complicated trailer plans (like the Deck-Over trailers), some parts are water-jet cut from flat sheet. The included CAD files for CNC cutting can be changed to metric, then adjusted in size to meet your country needs. Getting everything perfect might take some time, but it can be done.
Now you know the full story about plans in metric. I’m sorry we don’t have everything for everyone here, but we’re always working to improve. Thank you for understanding.
Oh, if there is something specific you want, feel free to leave a comment.
Extras — in Metric
By the way, if you need a quick temporary ruler, some of the images in this post are from PrintableRuler.net They have all sorts of cool PDF’s to print – Free. I like that website.
As a second side note, have you ever thought about what it would be like to have degrees in 10’s and 100’s too? 100 degrees in a full circle? Then smaller units like Centigrees? Or, maybe 400 degrees in a full circle. What do you think? Post your thoughts below.
Good luck with your conversions!